It’s a bold choice to throw your hat into the ring in a stacked 2023 NFL Draft cornerback class. But Kentucky CB Carrington Valentine has the talent and the scouting report to hold his own against the competition.
Carrington Valentine NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Kentucky
- Current Year: Junior
- Height/Weight: 6’0″, 194 pounds
The 2023 NFL Draft CB group is a pick-your-poison affair. There are dozens of quality CB options in the draftable range, and every type of defensive back is available. There are boundary ball hawks, slot savants, and hybrids with versatility.
The sheer numbers of this CB class makes it easy for an early declare like Valentine to fall under the radar. But Valentine deserves his own recognition as a potential starter in the NFL.
Valentine put together a compelling case as a prospect in 2022, logging a pick and nine pass deflections in his second season as a starter. But all things considered, it’s a surprise that he was able to declare so early.
Valentine only started playing CB as a junior in high school. Before then, he was a wide receiver, who also contributed on special teams. But after working his way up as a three-star recruit, Valentine emerged as a legitimate defensive playmaker in 2022, and he has a chance to make noise in the coming draft cycle.
Carrington Valentine Scouting Report
- Extremely explosive athlete who brings elite accelerative capacity as a closer.
- Has the long-strider speed to recover, close gaps, and limit vertical separation.
- High-energy lateral athlete with exceptional corrective twitch and throttle freedom.
- Has very fluid hips, with which he can sink and undergo sharp direction changes.
- Can play low in his stance, hinge around, and channel acceleration upfield instantly.
- Has great proportional length for his size and can use it in support and in the air.
- Feisty, unhinged competitor who brings high-end proactive physicality in all phases.
- Flashes great matching technique, foot speed, and response to stimulus in off-man.
- Shows off stellar coordination, body control, and timing in contested situations.
- Aggressive, forceful tackler who explodes downhill in run support.
Areas for Improvement
- Over-aggression invites volatility both at the line and in coverage.
- Can be more patient and disciplined in press-man alignments.
- Sometimes rushes to jam before his base is stable and can be uncontrolled with length.
- Sometimes grabs and tugs upfield to compensate for initial losses at the line.
- Can be outmuscled by larger wideouts who exploit his hands and get inside his frame.
- Can be over-zealous in taking risks and jumping routes, thereby vacating zones.
- Plant-and-drive footwork on comeback routes can be more efficient at times.
- At times, experiences a slight delay between recognition and reaction on screens.
Kentucky CB Carrington Valentine Current Draft Projection
Valentine scores a Day 2 grade in the 2023 NFL Draft cycle and could wind up being a top-75 prospect at the end of it all. In such a deep CB class, his ultimate placement will be heavily dependent on the talent around him. But Valentine has the high-level upside and active playmaking ability to garner consideration in the early rounds.
There are several high-upside cornerback prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft, but Valentine has one of the highest ceilings of the entire group. At 6’0″, 194 pounds, he has great proportional length, elite explosiveness, exceptional recovery speed, twitch, and fluidity.
Valentine has nearly all of the required physical and mobility traits to be a lockdown coverage defender. To top it off, he’s an exceedingly physical competitor with a constant chip on his shoulder, who also has high-level ball skills at the catch point — a perk of being a former WR.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Upside is where it starts and ends with Valentine, however. He’s rough around the edges on the operational side. He does show off good matching technique and an efficient backpedal in off-man. But Valentine needs much more patience, discipline, and consistency with his press-man technique.
Meanwhile, in zone coverage, Valentine is a gambler. He’ll take risks and bite on routes, and while that aggressiveness can be opportunistic, it can also make him easy to manipulate for quarterbacks.
He’ll probably take his lumps if he has to start on Day 1. To reach his ceiling, Valentine needs to learn to be more efficient, calculated, and synergetic with his jams in press and more measured in zone.
Nevertheless, Valentine’s still very young at the CB position. He’s trending up, and at his maximum, he can be an impact starting CB on the boundary, with press-man ability, playmaking value, and scheme versatility.
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